We set up in the bleachers with our music stands, and prepped our instruments for three hours of playing the same 6 songs over and again. It was an average Friday night game. The late Summer heat kept the field a balmy 90F, and I was thankful that I wore a spaghetti strap top and shorts today. It didn’t quite matter, since the marching uniform was like an oven over me, but every bit made a difference.
It had been a short hour and a half ride from Paris (TX) to Mount Pleasant, and my tiny group of friends had spent the whole time talking about Pulp Fiction and “U-ma, u-ma!” while listening to Blues Traveler and Goo Goo Dolls. Now out of the bus, it seemed the temperature had risen ten degrees, and my uniform was sticking to me in all the wrong places. The sun couldn’t set fast enough.
We stood, readied our instruments, and started the fight song as the football players took the field. In the distance, a gray cloud system was forming. It was far enough away it seemed hardly a threat. In an age before cell phones or portable internet devices, we weren’t able to get instant data to tell us what it was. Still, the directors agreed that if it came closer, we’d probably leave. Wet instruments were worthless instruments.
It blew in within seconds; it seemed. We finished the fight song, and it had covered the entire field. There was a light mist, but the worst of it was the ferocious wind.
It was so cold and biting and intense that it froze the sweat on our skins and knocked over all the music stands with a monstrous, almost simultaneous “clang.” Sheet music flew out into the field and stands, and we clambered to grab anything and everything. I watched and mimicked the other flutists as they tucked their instruments under their uniform jackets. I put my marching band hat on my head and pushed it down just above my eyes to avoid it falling off me. Then grabbed a music stand in both arms and grimaced as the tripod legs took turns hitting the back of my running legs.
We loaded the buses and vans with the drums and stands, all while our teeth chattered and fingers froze. Once in the bus and on our way back home, the only sound anyone could make was the common “brrrr” as we huddled in our corners of the seats and wished the heat was back.
Winter had come, and he was a cold bastard.